Thursday, June 23, 2016

RIP Ralph Stanley of the Stanley Brothers

Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Dies at 89
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I just wrote about the Stanley Brothers a week or so ago. A great band and Ralph was a very talented banjo player.

recommended gigs


Friday June 24 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, Alan Six - CD release party! - the Undercover Monsters and the Mapes at the Dive Bar

Saturday June 25 - Psyatics at the Dive Bar with the Two Tens, Jerk and Joni's Agenda
Saturday June 25 - the Mapes, Stalins of Sound and Radio Silence at 11th St Records
Saturday June 25 - Water Landing, the Steady Extras, Robert Stokes at Aces Ales
Saturday June 25 - the Chicken Shack returns to the Bunkhouse

Saturday June 25 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Monday June 27 - the Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday June 29 - Time Crashers, Illicitor, Decent Criminals - house party

Thursday June 30 - the Scoundrels with the Rocketz at the Hard Hat

Friday July 1 - the Astaires, Civilians, Fuck Shit Piss, Three Rounds at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 9 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Thursday July 14 - Screeching Weasel, the Dickies, the Queers at LV Country Saloon

Friday July 15 - Psyatics, Super Zeroes at the Double Down

Tuesday July 19 - Toys That Kill, Civic Minded 5, Illicitor, Fredward at the Dive Bar

Friday July 22 - Eagles of Death Metal at the Hard Rock

Sunday July 24 - Bob Log III at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday July 26 - Jesika von Rabbit and Spindrift at the Bunkhouse

Friday July 29 - The Swamp Gospel and the Lucky Cheats at the Sand Dollar anniversary party!

Friday August 12 - Shooter Jennings back by Waylon's Band at Fremont Country Club
Friday August 12 - the Weirdos, Scoundrels, and the Civilians at the Dive Bar

Saturday August 13 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday August 13 - The Swamp Gospel, Thee Faded Pyctures, and more at the Double Down

Friday August 19 - Psyatics CD Release Party at the Double Down with Tito Mojito and the New Conquerors, Pluralses and Swamp Pussy

Saturday Sept 10 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Friday Oct 21 - the Psyatics and the Vibrators at the Double Down

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

The follow up to the iconic Exile on Main Street, this 1973 release had a lot to live up to and while it is not the classic that its predecessor is, it is a solid piece of Stones rock'n'roll.

They create quite the sultry groove in "Dancing With Mr. D.", a fave from this session, and vary tempos within "100 Years Ago", breaking down just as the feel was catchin' on, but then come back into the funkiness with a smokin' Mick Taylor guitar solo. "Coming Down Again" is nice enough, but is a fairly unremarkable ballad, but leads into the fantastically funky hit "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" - probably their last truly great hit single. Terrific lead guitar, cool wah-wahs, powerful horn section and damn catchy - everything cooks and connects on this one!

The other Top Forty smash from this record was, of course, "Angie", an acoustic ballad that succeeds where "Coming Down Again" failed - hooky and memorable and a great arrangement. "Silver Train" is a personal treasure from the album - a slide-driven, up-tempo blues rocker that Johnny Winter took to even higher levels on his Still Alive and Well LP. There's a bit of a gospel feel to "Hide Your Love", a clap-along number with excellent guitar leads, followed by yet another string-laden ballad, "Winter" - ironic as they were recording in Jamaica - that builds as Taylor gets to stretch out some more on his guitar. "Can You Hear the Music" is another tune that doesn't strike you at first but kinda sneaks up on you in an insistent way - sort of like "Moonlight Mile" - and they conclude with one of their rudest (other than "Cocksucker Blues") but best groupie-rockers, "Star Star" (aka "Star Fucker"). Great piece (so to speak!) of rock'n'roll to close things out.

Not up to par with their previous albums (how could they match the foursome of Beggar's Banquet,  Let It Bleed, , Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street?), but still a fine endeavor and one of the last true successes.

The Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang

Apparently, this 2005 CD was the band's last release and while it's not one that I listen to often, it is still a worthy successor to their previous greatness.

The opening "Rough Justice" is kind of a monster - huge, heavy guitars, cool slide work, and a stompin' r'n'r groove. "Let Me Down Slow" has a feel like something off of Some Girls, with some nice melodic flourishes. Patented Keith Richards' staccato chords drive "It Won't Take Long", they get a bit funky in "Rain Come Down", do a so-so (but undeniably catchy) soulful power ballad in "Streets of Love", get bluesy in "Back of My Hand" (nice slide'n'harp work), build a r'n'r dance groove for "She Saw Me Coming" and then give another unmemorable ballad in "Biggest Mistake".

Reminiscent of "Angie", there is an acoustic ballad in "This Place is Empty", then they wake up and bring the fire for "Oh No, Not You Again" (a bit of a nod to "Shattered" here), and give us a rocker with nice open spaces in "Dangerous Beauty". There's a slow burner in "Laugh, I Almost Died", they get political (this was the Bush years, remember) in the blues-rocker "Sweet Neo Con", are almost frantically funky in "Look What the Cat Dragged In", produce another stomper in "Driving Too Fast" before ending the proceedings with Keith's "Infamy" (a play on "in for me", as in "you got it in for me").

Certainly not one of their best, but also certainly better than many of their later releases. Some real bits of coolness and definitely worth hearing, in any case.

Junior Brown Long Walk Back

Once I stumbled across Junior Brown - through Facebook friends, as I recall - I was hooked on his traditional country sound and his incredible guitar playing. I picked up this CD after diggin' the title track on one the Junior comps I have gathered.

The afore-mentioned title number, "Long Walk Back To San Antone", is a cool bit of country/blues/swing with a great groove and some amazing git work, of course. Even more wild git-steel playing in the upbeat C&W "The Better Half", but the maudlin ballad "Read "em and Weep" doesn't really stand out. He rectifies that with the kitschy but rockin' "Rock-a-Hula Baby" where he combines the silly subject matter with insanely good playin' - and even gives a goofy Elvis-like ending. Speaking of Elvis, "Lookin' For Love" sounds like it could have been one of his later, movie soundtrack songs, with a Fifties influence but a bit more polish that necessary - dig the sax'n'guitar though! I love his instrumental work and "Peelin' Taters", despite the frivolous title, delivers the goods and the fingers fly through "Freedom Machine" at an incredible pace - he truly is one of the most creative and innovative players I've heard in any genre. The steel-guitar driven ballad "Just a Little Love" works much better than "Read "em and Weep" - not quite as weepy and the steel performance is truly beautiful. "Keepin' Up With You" is kind of a blues rock number, but with disjointed rhythms, more kooky lyrics, but guitar work that is reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughn and even Hendrix, at times. Dig the surf-meets-country of "I'm All Fired Up" and he closes with a guitar tour-de-force that only he could deliver, "Stupid Blues". Man, I could listen to his guitar all day long and never get tired - I wish he didn't feel the need to play the goofball in so many of his songs, though I guess it has served him well over the years.

I've found that all of Junior's CDs are a bit uneven, but his instrumental work overcomes any objections I ever have and everything I've heard has more than enough greatness to balance out the foolishness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I Am Thor - documentary

My old pal Frank Meyer from the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs helped produce this bio-pic of the 70's rock star who went by the name of Thor. If you grew up in the 70's you most likely saw this man's album in the stores, but also most likely never got a chance to see him live, and this film helps to explain the trials and tribulations that ravaged this would-be god's career.

Growing up in the 50's and 60's, Jon Mikal was drawn to rock'n'roll (his 60's garage band, the Ticks, actually sound pretty cool from the brief snippet in the movie) but also, through his brother's influence, he became a professional body builder. From there, his life ran through many unique and crazy adventures - a stint in Vegas, a time as a male stripper - before he decided to seriously pursue heavy metal and signed to a major label. From here the story gets even weirder - kidnapping, porn stars, sabotage, breakdowns, b-movies, retirement, a failed marriage and a return to the stage.

The doc mostly concentrates on this return as it shows the many facets of this time and the many different musicians that has played with Thor, including, at times, Frank and his cohorts in the Cheetahs, Bruce Duff and Dino Everett. There are many small shows - one promoter bemoans the fact that there were 6 paying customers - some house parties with punk bands, and lots of couch surfing and slogging through towns to little interest. But then Thor is invited to play several festivals in the Netherlands, including one dedicated to Thor himself, so the film ends on a high note with the man finally receiving some notoriety.

I was reminded on the Anvil movie here and hopefully this flick with help to re-ignite Thor's fame, as well. Another rock'n'roll "what could have been"!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cabaret at the Smith Center, Las Vegas, Saturday June 18, 2016


I've been a fan of the Liza Minnelli movie version of Cabaret pretty much since it was released but have never before seen a stage presentation. The version performed at the Smith Center is updated from the original and has simple yet effective staging and fine costumes that reflect the previous take without copying it.

Here the story doesn't simply revolve around Sally Bowles (Andrea Gross) and Clifford Bradshaw (Lee Aaron Rosen), but seems to take more from the original book of short tales, Berlin Stories, as it explores the budding relationship of the inn-keeper (Shannon Cochran) and her Jewish beau (Mark Nelson) along with friend Ernst (Ned Noyes) and the prostitute Kost (Alison Ewing), and, of course, the Emcee (Randy Harrison). While the iconic songs remain, there are many that did not appear in the movie, as they revolve around the other characters.

I enjoyed this adaptation - there are enough variations to keep it fresh, but still keeps the feel of the original. The Smith Center brings some superior productions and, if you don't mind the upper strata, you can get seats at a reasonable price (a number of our punk rock friends were in the same area as we were).

Friday, June 17, 2016

recommended gigs

Friday June 17 - the Rhyolite Sound, the Union Drifters at the Bunkhouse
Friday June 17 - Franks'n'Deans at the Golden Tiki

Saturday June 18 - Super Zeroes at the Double Down

Monday June 20 - the Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki (Nikki's birthday!)

Friday June 24 - Melanie and the Midnite Marauders, Alan Six - CD release party! - the Undercover Monsters and the Mapes at the Dive Bar

Saturday June 25 - Psyatics at the Dive Bar with the Two Tens, Jerk and Joni's Agenda
Saturday June 25 - the Mapes, Stalins of Sound and Radio Silence at 11th St Records
Saturday June 25 - Water Landing, the Steady Extras, Robert Stokes at Aces Ales
Saturday June 25 - the Chicken Shack returns to the Bunkhouse

Saturday June 25 - the All Togethers at the Pioneer Saloon

Monday June 27 - the Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Friday July 1 - the Astaires, Civilians, Fuck Shit Piss, Three Rounds at the Dive Bar

Saturday July 9 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Thursday July 14 - Screeching Weasel, the Dickies, the Queers at LV Country Saloon

Friday July 15 - Psyatics, Super Zeroes at the Double Down

Friday July 22 - Eagles of Death Metal at the Hard Rock

Sunday July 24 - Bob Log III at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday July 26 - Jesika von Rabbit and Spindrift at the Bunkhouse

Friday July 29 - The Swamp Gospel and the Lucky Cheats at the Sand Dollar anniversary party!

Friday August 12 - Shooter Jennings back by Waylon's Band at Fremont Country Club
Friday August 12 - the Weirdos, Scoundrels, and the Civilians at the Dive Bar

Saturday August 13 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Saturday August 13 - The Swamp Gospel, Thee Faded Pyctures, and more at the Double Down

Friday August 19 - Psyatics CD Release Party at the Double Down with Tito Mojito and the New Conquerors, Pluralses and Swamp Pussy

Saturday Sept 10 - Unwieldies at the Dillinger

Friday Oct 21 - the Psyatics and the Vibrators at the Double Down

What have I forgotten? Lemme know

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys - the Complete Mercury Recordings

The Stanley Brothers - Carter on guitar and lead vocals and Ralph on clawhammer-style banjo and tenor vocals - started their bluegrass career in 1946, highly influenced by Bill Monroe. In fact, the story is that Monroe left the Columbia label after the Stanley Brothers were signed because he felt they were imitators of his. He later forgave them and even worked together on several occasions.

After a brief breakup, the Brothers reunited and signed with Mercury for these recordings, which took place between 1953 and 1958. They are joined by other musicians, including mandolin, fiddle, guitar, steel guitar, bass and more, but the brothers are always the stars. Monroe described Carter as "the finest natural lead singer there ever was" and, combined with Ralph's terrific tenor and extraordinary banjo stylings, they were a potent duo. Of course, the backing musicians add quite a bit, as well, and these tunes are superior selections of the bluegrass style.

There are gospel tunes mixed in with the secular, instrumentals (such as the fiery banjo workout "Dickson County Breakdown") and even the classic "Angel Band", which appeared on the O Brother How Art Thou soundtrack. Everything here is strong - all 48 numbers - and this is another excellent example of the best of classic bluegrass.

Monday, June 13, 2016

this is kinda amazing - Rock Scene online


The complete archive of the fun'n'cool Rock Scene magazine.